Midweek magic means Toffees are set to trounce Fulham
Fulham, odds-on joint-favourites at 2/7 to be relegated from the Premier League this term, last beat top-four outside hopefuls Everton (14/1) in this division in September 2009.
Those who highlight the Cottagers have already beaten the Toffees, in League Cup action, this term are glossing over the fact that a weakened team was fielded by Roberto Martinez.
He will be fielding a much stronger XI here, as the blue half of Merseyside try to chase down upcoming opponents Arsenal in the race for a Champions League place.
Coral offer an industry-best price on Everton, and make them odds-on 4/5 favourites for three points at Craven Cottage.
They are set to come up against Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga, who left Goodison Park for Fulham in January. If that move was set to shore up the beleaguered back-line in west London, then it has hardly improved matters.
In the seven Premier League matches Heitinga has played for Fulham, they have conceded 16 of the 70 goals that have flown in against them.
This abysmal defensive record, although Felix Magath’s men did keep a rare clean sheet in their last home game (a win over Newcastle United), justifies their outsiders price of 7/2 outsiders for three precious points in the scrap for survival.
A draw – the result in two of the last three league meetings at the Cottage – is tempting at 11/4, but betting on that would mean overlooking the hugely impressive away win Martinez’s team took on the road at Newcastle in midweek. If they can thrash opposition of that calibre, then doing so against Fulham should be straightforward.
One Ross Barkley, odds-on at 4/9 to make England boss Roy Hodgson’s final World Cup roster, got Everton off to a spectacular start at St James’ Park. He is 15/8 to net again anytime here.
Winger Gerard Deulofeu also caught the eye with two assists last time out, one of which was for Toffees top-scorer Romelu Lukaku. Back the Belgian to add to his tally against Fulham, by netting first at 9/2.
Everton enjoyed a handsome 4-1 win in the reverse fixture, with four different players scoring. A repeat result is an outside shout at 28/1, and should be considered as hosts Fulham can easily capitulate.
Among those on target at Goodison was Leon Osman. He is entering veteran territory now, but still has an eye for goal. He bagged a winning brace at the Cottage back in 2009, and odds of 20/1 say he will score two or more on that ground again.
Martinez is set to welcome back Toffees skipper Phil Jagielka, and that should be the only change they make to their starting XI. Steven Pienaar remains out with a knee problem.
Fulham’s German gaffer Magath has blooded youngsters, including Cauley Woodrow and Patrick Roberts, in recent games, but a relegation dogfight simply is neither the time nor the place to do that.
Darren Bent has six goals in 14 appearances against Everton in his career, but the striker has had to play second fiddle to these unknown names.
Should he be involved, then odds of 11/4 for a goal anytime from the former England frontman are worth considering – if punters are bold enough to fancy Fulham.
The hosts are boosted by the return of Iranian winger Ashkan Dejagah, who won the Bundesliga under Magath at Wolfsburg in 2008/09. He is 5/1 to score anytime.
Scott Parker and January signing Kostas Mitroglou are still out. Defender Fernando Amoebieta is suspended for Fulham.
Your best bet looks to be on the handicap markets. Give Everton a deficit of two or three goals, and be rewarded with attractive odds of 5/1 and 12/1 respectively.